Public Enemy #1

It has been a struggle, but looks like I am going to make my minimum 6 posts a month goal after all.  I must say that I seriously underestimated the amount of extra time it takes to maintain this goal while fulfilling my commitment to jazz the site up more with images.  Hopefully you noticed that every single post for the new year has had either an accompanying photo or topic relevant graphic.  What this translates to is extra time required for every post.  But I am committed to my loyal but demanding readers, so we journey on.

“Thy Enemy Has Fur!”  Today we set our sites on my wildlife nemesis. That’s right, I am talking about this beast.

Squirrel

Do not be fooled by the cute brown-gray fur or the sparkling in the eyes because this monster is pure evil.  I believe he spends his day scheming how to circumvent every one of the bird feeder protections I can think up.  He’ll first use ninja like stealth to shimmy up the tree and wait until the coast is clear.  Using his cunning ability to blend with the tree trunk colors, he will navigate towards the prize.

Squirrel

Look at him with that smirk on his face.   But what he doesn’t know is I’m on to his little game.  I’ll turn my back to give a false sense of security. Slowly he creeps out of the shadows and begins his decent.  Claw over claw he makes his way to shiny brass container with the belly filling seed.

Squirrel

Actually it is a pretty impressive ability as he basically does a pawstand to stretch as far as possible down the twine.  But what would you expect from devil-spawn?  Once shimmed down the rope, he has to maintain his balance on the slippery top of the feeder.  A top supposedly designed to hurl the rodent to is final resting place.  But no, it doesn’t even seem to give an ounce of concern.

Squirrel

Another check to verify the coast is clear and over the side he goes.   I would love to know what his strength to body weight ratio is.  This must be where the heart gets pumping.  With a constant eye on the nearby doors and windows the feet are put in place to give optimal support yet freedom to totally mangle my feeder.

Squirrel

I can’t take it anymore so I turn to face him… to strike fear in his eyes… to end this folly.  Our eyes remain fixed as he assesses the danger and braces for my attack.  At least that is what I though he was going to do.  Instead, the coward literally leaps from the bird feeder and grabs on to the side of the tree.  The leaping ability puts the twine crawling capability to shame.  Back on solid ground he scampers back up to a position of authority.  What’s he doing now?  You have got to be kidding me?

Squirrel

The little SOB has taunted me a second time with a full flip-off.  Enraged I fling open the door in protest.  In a flash of the tail (yes, he waved it in my face for a third level of taunt) he bolts down the tree and heads out into the forest.  He may have be able to get away clean this time, but I’ve got the camera charged up and waiting his return.  Come to think of it, I’m a little hungry.  I wonder if they really taste like chicken.

Until the NEXT time!

Night Dwellers Part 2

Figured I would go ahead and get another night shot out of the way.  As with the spiders in the previous post these shots were taken late night on our porch.  Some people have bird dogs other rabbit dogs.  I happen to own a frog and toad dog.  When our poodle heads outside, he always does a quick look around the porch to see if there are any toads or frogs hanging around and makes sure he puts his nose no farther than a millimeter away.  The running joke is that Rizzi is a junkie and likes to lick the frogs to get his fix.  That was the case the night I took this frog shot.

Frog

It was definitely started by the flood of lights (not to mention the personal space violation from Rizzi).  I was afraid to get to close so I didn’t have a chance to give a visual size reference, but this one was around 3 inches.  The flash gave some pop to the eyes but again lost in the ‘shopping.  I am guessing this little creature is impossible to see on a tree trunk or in the dead leaves.  Not such great cover on the cement.

Frog

I probably need to pick up a frog reference when I go to pick up my spider reference book.  After quick searches on the web and a follow up with the trusty Wikipedia, the consensus is Gray Treefrog or Hyla versicolor.  Apparently if I had waited for it to jump there would have been color under the legs.  You don’t believe that did you?  Of course I did not just “wait” for it to jump.  After 5 minutes of trying to entice it with my toe in order to get the super cool jumping shot, I gave up and went to bed.

Well, I hope Mr. Gray has a fulfilling life and my thanks to him for being a willing subject.  RIIIIIBBBBBEEETTT

Night Dwellers (part 1 of likely many throughout the year)

One of my chores, if you will, is to take our dogs out before retiring for the night.  Due to the potential for coyotes and other non-friendly pet wildlife we coexists with out in the country, this involves hitting our flood lights which illuminates our entire porch and a large section of the yard.  You cannot be too careful when taking care of a 5 pound dog.  This instant light tends to surprise animals, insects and the like.  As a result, I tend to see some interesting (and sometimes scary) things previously undercover of the night.  I decided to snap a few shots to share the experience with my readers – especially those people who have not experienced the country life.

The first subject for the night dwellers collection is the Wolf Spider.

Wolf Spider

Interesting enough, I have often heard these spiders referred to as Timber Spiders, but I was unable to find that name on the web.  It may be time to hit the bookstores and pick up a spider reference book since at least once a week a new species pops up around here.  They are not venomous to humans, but their hairy texture and potentially large size have a tendency to provoke pretty aggressive stomping by those caught off guard.  As an FYI, the Brown Recluse is really the only venomous spider we have to worry about around here.  Those tend to avoid any contact and therefore not a big concern but I do give a quick scan of the woodpiles and such just in case.

Wolf Spider

My general rule is to let all insects and arachnids live if they are not found inside the house or are smaller than a Loon coin.  This specimen was definitely on the larger end of that (if not bigger) but since it tolerated my flash photography it was given a second chance.  I have a new lens coming for my camera that will give me much sharper shots, but hopefully you can tell these things are extremely hairy and look quite formidable.  The eye reflection was pretty neat through the glass, but did not really make it through the reduction process which makes the image web friendly.  By eye, I mean the reflection coming off of one or more of their eight eyes.

Follow the jump to see another image of the wolf spider taken a few days later.  That one has an egg sac.

Continue reading Night Dwellers (part 1 of likely many throughout the year)